Thursday, October 29, 2015

Help Students Manage Their Anger with a Mad Pass

Helping students self-regulate their behavior is often a challenge at all levels of school. One former graduate student of mine was a middle school teacher in an urban school district. She created something called a Mad Pass to help students with dealing with anger in the classroom. This Mad Pass had several easy-to-us components to make it work:

Anger Ladder

This teacher created a poster sharing the levels of anger that we all face:

  • 0 = calm
  • 1 = annoyance
  • 2 = anger
  • 3 = rage
As students come into class each day, students would use this poster to communicate to their teacher where they were "at." For example, 0 means calm,  while 2 would mean angry.


The Mad Pass

If her students being feeling angry (2) or higher, students were encouraged to grab the Mad Pass and exit the classroom to get a drink. If this becomes an issue in your classroom, you could even have a "chill zone" with items to calm the student down.

Accountability

Just taking the Mad Pass into the hallway is enticing for any student who wants to skip out on class time. In order to add accountability, this teacher added a timer to limit how long they left the classroom and a sheet of paper to analyze their emotions.

Returning to the Class Environment

Students bring back the mad pass and sheet of paper. This sheet of paper is their "ticket" back in their seat. They cannot sit down until they have a conversation with the teacher about what happened and what the student will do differently next time. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Algebra + QR Codes = #Awesome

A few months ago, I was attending a conference and I noticed that almost every presenter was using QR Codes instead of URL's to share web resources with their audience. This trend is quickly spilling into our classrooms because QR Codes make life so much easier for teachers and students.

I recently ran into a math teacher named Travis, who came up with a very unique way to use QR codes.

Step 1: Work Sheet

Students have a worksheet with problem number 1 at the top. They must solve the problem and show their work.



Step 2: QR Codes

After they are done, they walk to a location in the room containing a QR Code. When students used their Smart device to scan the QR code, an answer was revealed. If it matched their answer, they got it right. If it didn't, they got the question wrong and had to figure out what they did wrong.


If students arrived at the correct answer, they would also see the next problem appear on the screen as well. Travis used QR Code Generator to create the text and QR code! I like this generator because it lets you publish content and generate a QR Code. Many sites just provide you a QR code, while you have to publish your content elsewhere.

Conclusion:

This amazing activity was simplistic, yet very engaging and challenging for students to complete. I applaud Travis for taking a risk and creating a valuable experience for his students!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Easily Convert ANY PDF to Word for Free

It never fails...you have a PDF that you need converted to Word. I seem to get this question out of the blue every month or two. You may want to check out InvestinTech's free PDF to Word converter.

What makes this different compared to other similar tools?
  • There are NO limits on how many files you can covert or how large of a file you can convert! Files of all sizes can be converted for an unlimited number of times. 
  • Scanned and standard PDF files are supported.
  • This tool is completely free. The only price is viewing a few of advertisements during the conversion process. Don't you do the same thing waiting for your favorite YouTube video to play? 

How does it work? 

Step 1: Choose your file. The best part is that scanned and standard PDF files are supported.

Step 2: Type in your email address, so that your PDF can be converted into a Word Document. 

Step 3: Covert Your PDF and receive it via email

Conclusion:

This simple, but easy tool will help transform the way that you work. Try it out today and let me know how it works!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Help Students Manage Time with the 30/30 App

Time management has to be one of the most difficult tasks for students (and adults) to master. There are so many things to do and keep track of each day! When we are helping our students become expert learners, we need to help them develop important self-regulation skills, like sustaining effort, managing time, and even breaks.

A Great Time Management App:

One of my recent graduate students wanted to find an App that could help her students plan and manage the amount of time they spent on assignments, tasks, and even breaks. She found an excellent iOS time management app called 30/30, where students set up a customized list of tasks and the expected time of each task. When students start the timer, you will be prompted when to move on to the next task.

How can you use this App?

Step 1: Create Your Task List

Students can open up 30/30 and create their own new Task List, where they can customize the task name and amount of time spent on each task. Add as many tasks as you would like.

Step 2: Create Your Tasks

Add Tasks to your Task List, customize the amount of time spent on the task, and even add an icon. I would highly recommend adding time for breaks! Students can even reposition the tasks in an order that makes sense for them.

NOTE: If you go to settings, you can email task lists to others. This may be a little tricky if email isn't setup on student iPads; however, this could be a great tool for 1:1 environments.



Step 3: Begin Using Your Task List

When students are ready to use their Task List, they can open it and press play. They have the ability to add time, decrease time, check the task as complete, or even delete the task. 


My Thoughts

With an easy-to-use interface, this App is a powerful tool for any classroom. It can help not only our students manage time, but perhaps we can use it ourselves. How often do you find yourself wondering where all the time went? 

Do you have a similar tool that you use? I would love to hear about it. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

GoNoodle is the Perfect BrainBreak and Self-Regulation Tool

Many of you have asked to see my Simple K12 presentation from Saturday afternoon. As promised, here it is



I have spent most of my career as a secondary teacher and recently I made the transition to our elementary school. As a Technology Integration Specialist, I had no idea how an elementary school worked; however, I am quickly learning that brain breaks are an integral part an elementary teacher's day.

An Awesome Brain Break Tool!

Several of my colleagues and a few of my graduate students have suggested that I take a look at GoNoodle. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to help all of your kiddos get their energy out, this is the tool!

If you are not familiar with this free (and entertaining) brain break site, you will want to create your own free account. Once you create an account, you have a plethora of activities, videos, and games to choose from. It is a fun and interactive site that gets kids moving, stretching, and even practicing breathing techniques.

Want to See an Example? 

As I cruise the halls of my school, I often hear the Pop See Ko song. This unforgettable tune will not only get the wiggles out, but it will be stuck in your head the rest of the day!


Why Brain Breaks Engage Students:

Brain breaks an excellent tool to help students develop self-regulation, where they can learn to manage their energy and behavior. It is an important component of curriculum that is often overlooked. 

Brain breaks offer great opportunities to help students manage their energy and regain their focus; however, it can also create a positive classroom environment, where students have outlets for managing their energy and behavior. When this happens their engagement increases. When engagement increases, student learning and success increases. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Guest Blogger: Kaitlin Krull Discusses Top 5 Essential Gadgets for a High-Tech Home

I love having guest bloggers post from time to time. Today's guest blogger is Kaitlin Krull. Kaitlin is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. Her writing is featured on Modernize.com and a number of home decor sites around the web. She can also be found blogging from time to time on her personal blog, A Vicar’s Wife.

Top 5 Essential Gadgets for a High-Tech Home

 Modern life isn’t exactly what we imagined, technologically speaking. While our cars don’t hover and our homes aren’t run by robots (yet), there are many high-tech gadgets that make home life easier and more advanced than that of our ancestors. If you’re looking for ways to bring your home into the 21st century, here are five essential gadgets you’ll need (and a few extras you’ll probably want).

Smart thermostat or HVAC system
At the top of the home technology list for most homeowners is a smart thermostat or HVAC system. Most of us have heard of the range of products from Nest, an environmentally friendly home automation company that produces thermostats, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and safety cameras. The smart thermostat from Nest monitors, measures, and learns your home heating and cooling patterns over a period of time and adapts your heating settings to save energy and regulate the temperature in your home. All of the data collected by your Nest thermometer is available to view and control via smartphone or tablet app. The newest model of the Nest learning thermometer costs $249 and is sure to save you money on your heating bills. If you’re looking for something similar, check out products from EcoBee and Ecovent, which also produce smart thermometers for the home.


via Nest

Wireless light bulbs

Wireless, WiFi controlled light bulbs and lighting systems are the next step for lighting technology. Make your home more energy efficient and increase your tech profile by switching out traditional halogen light bulbs for eco-friendly wireless LED bulbs that can be linked and controlled remotely. There are tons of these alternative bulbs on the market, but some of the best come from brands such as Hue and Stack. Although the switch to wireless lighting will cost you more than traditional light bulbs initially, the savings in your electricity bills will be reflected quickly and you will thank yourself for this high-tech change.



via Modernize 


Home security system
Via Modernize

Home security is of paramount importance to homeowners, and the latest technology is key if you want to keep your security system up to date and adequately reliable. While standard home security systems do the job just fine, there are several companies that are taking home security technology to the next level. The Welcome camera from home security company Netatmo, for example, has the ability to learn the faces of your loved ones and recognize them when they arrive at your home. The live streaming data from this device is accessed remotely via smartphone app, as with most of today’s high tech gadgets, and can tell you instantly when the device recognizes a loved one or a stranger in your home. The Welcome costs $199 with access to a free, no-subscription app and will save you time, stress, and money in the long run.


WiFi speakers

The latest technology in the home entertainment field comes from WiFi speakers and other devices that can play music over WiFi and via Bluetooth. With portable speakers from brands such as Sonos, Amazon, and Bose, you can easily fill your home with music with the touch of a button on your smartphone, computer, or tablet. The tech behind these gadgets is simple Bluetooth magic and is fast, reliable, and easy, provided you have an adequate wireless Internet connection. Take your pick from basic or top of the line speaker models that enhance sound quality, and your house will be instantly tech savvy when it comes to music.

Robot vacuum
Robotic vacuums may well be a bit passé by now, but they are still worth mentioning in this list. Although we joke that our homes will someday be controlled by robots, many 21st century technological solutions aren’t that far off. Clever floor cleaners like the iRobot Roomba leave their dock, whizz around the room sucking up small amounts of dust and debris, and return to their home when the job is done, all without running into walls or other hazards in the middle of the room. Very clever to watch and even easier to operate, a robotic vacuum is a high tech household necessity for those of us who want to save a little time cleaning.

Extras
Once you’ve equipped your home with these five gadgets, you will officially be members of the high tech homeowners club. However, like us at Modernize, we are sure you know that technology is always changing, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the latest and greatest home tech products on the market. Just to get you started, here are a few of the cleverest (and sometimes oddest) products out there right now:

      WiFi coffee machine
      Smart washer/dryer
      Smart smoke/CO2 alarm
      WeMo Crock Pot: from Belkin, equipped with WeMo
      PetCube: video camera system for pets

      H20 Smart Pot: plant watering device